The Law of Sowing and Reaping
(Illustration) Years ago a mother and daughter were planting a flower garden in the backyard. The mother carefully buried the seeds in a neatly configured pattern until the phone rang. As she ran inside to answer it her little daughter carefully continued the tedious process of lining up the seeds. That is, until she spilled the tray of seeds. She was afraid of what her mother would say when she saw the mess she created so the little girl quickly covered the seeds with dirt and continued as if nothing had happened. When the mother returned she noticed the seeding proceeded unusually fast so she asked if the directions were followed. The daughter assured mom they were. But when Spring arrived it flourished with another answer.
The Bible sets forth an irrevocable law that we cannot ignore. It doesn't matter if you're nine or ninety-nine. That law is found in our text in Galatians 6 that says: "whatever is sown is reaped!"
You've heard the adage, "If God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!" That's a good faith-building maxim, but, there are times when God's Word says it and that settles it regardless of your belief system! And that irrepressible law of reciprocity is one such case. It operates whichever direction you turn.
Since this principle can never be outsmarted or overruled we should learn how to live in such a way to make it work for our advantage. And it can work for our advantage. The law of sowing and reaping doesn't just operate to warn or correct us it operates in many positive ways.
(Transition) That means we can and should learn how to implement the law of reciprocity for our benefit. That's what I want to spend the majority of our time investigating in this message—how to implement the law of sowing and reaping positively. As we'll discover in point one, To positively incorporate the law of reciprocity we must sow righteous seeds.
I. To Positively Incorporate the Law of Reciprocity You Must Sow Righteous Seeds
Everybody constantly gives. Whether it's voluntarily or compulsory, properly or improperly, everyone gives and the seed planting process never ends. The art to mastering life involves what type of seed we will plant.
Listen to our text once again: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (8) The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (GAL 6:7-8).
That Scripture is both dreadful and wonderful. When you apply the law of reciprocity positively it brings beneficial results; when you apply it negatively it brings detrimental consequences. What's really frightening is, as free moral agents, God often lets us sow seeds without interfering:
He stood back and watched Adam and Eve partake of the forbidden tree. And death instantly attacked them.
He permitted Moses to disobey and
strike the rock twice. And Moses didn't
He willingly let King Saul ignore Samuel's warning and offer the sacrifice. And Saul lost his kingdom.
He didn't interfere when David
disobediently transported the Ark of the Covenant. And a priest was struck dead trying to steady
(Example) God doesn't always intrude upon our planting, but He always orders the consequences. You can leap from a sixty story skyscraper and halfway down ask God's forgiveness. You may get pardon but you won't get a parachute. The law of gravity working with the law of sowing and reaping is inescapable.
We should plant with spiritual seeds that have God's life pulsating within them. That's why God said in Hosea 10:12 "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love" (NIV).
Sometime back Pastor Jack Hayford shared some valuable insight about giving. He explained five ways we can give: Hayford said we should: give up, give in, give over, give to, and forgive. (The Key To Everything, Jack Hayford, Creation House, 1993, page 29.) Giving is the secret to living.
There are times to give up, not in resignation or despair, but surrendering to pride and self-righteousness.
There are times to give in and recognize Christ's lordship and submit to His kingdom principles.
There are times to give over to God and let His presence and power handle the situation.
There are times to give to and assist another's welfare.
There are times to forgive and release animosity or a festering grudge or the anger that's been seething within.
That type giving will always produce a harvest of righteousness. We'll know what it means to live the "abundant life" Jesus spoke of.
But here's our fear: We think obeying God's command to give means reducing our tangible worth, diminishing our social welfare, and in short, possessing less in life. Nothing could stray further from God's revelation.
We give up pride and self-centeredness to receive Christ's image.
We give in to God to receive His incomparable plan.
We give over to God to receive His delivering, sea-splitting, fire-quenching, mountain-moving intervention.
We give to His purposes to receive His blessing multiplied back many-fold.
We forgive others of their offenses to receive God's unconditional forgiveness toward us.
(Transition) When we sow seeds of righteousness two things occur: One, we establish Christ's Lordship in our life and, two, we increase our capacity to receive.
II. Giving Recognizes Christ's Lordship and Increases Our Capacity to Receive
God's command to give isn't designed to strip away our resources. And that's precisely what Satan wants us misunderstanding. Everything about Satan's strategy aims at usurping Christ's lordship and limiting your capacity to receive from God's bounty. That was his intention in the Garden of Eden.
God told Adam and Eve they could eat anything they wanted except from the tree of "the knowledge of good and evil." Think about it. God wasn't depriving them of prosperity. The entire world was theirs. The core issue was this: God wanted Adam and Eve understanding they were answerable to Him and recognize His supreme lordship over all creation. And all they had to do was treat one tree as sacrosanct and untouchable! If they submitted to His command they would govern the rest of the world. That's a pretty good tradeoff!
This is not some obsolete principle that applied to Adam and Eve, it's a powerful and eternal principle that applies to everyone here. God wants people today to recognize His sovereignty and lordship. He want them to understand He has set boundaries that shouldn't be crossed!
There are "thou shall nots" to be observed.
There are dead-end and even deathly roads of this world that should be avoided.
There are destructive behavioral traits that should not be part of our character.
And when people persist in breaking Scripture's "thou shall nots," and speeding down forbidden paths, and in practicing immorality, lying, drunkenness, outbursts of anger, arguing, and the like it only leads to ruin! There is never a pleasant surprise or good ending when we live outside the boundaries God has placed for us.
God doesn't set boundaries for us to suppress us into a place of misery. His commandments always have a two-fold purpose. They teach us to recognize His lordship and they bring us into a place to receive His blessing.
Jesus wants us to understand something about our sowing and giving. Giving enlarges our capacity to receive. The harvest of one seed is always many times greater than the seed.
There's a message God wants to get across when He encourages us to sow seeds of righteousness. It's this: God's grace and goodness and blessings are often returned in direct proportion to your sowing. That's what Jesus said in Luke 6:38: "by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." Frugal sowing produces a frugal harvest. Abundant sowing produces an abundant harvest.
Maybe you've been wondering when I would get to this passage of Scripture. Well, let's turn to Malachi 3 and read:
If you interpret that from a legalistic, "God just wants your money" perspective you'll miss that He's again trying to (1) establish His lordship and (2) expand your capacity to receive. Here's what God means when He says: "you have robbed Me by withholding your tithes and offerings":
Like those holy, forbidden-to-touch trees in the Garden of Eden there's a tenth of your earning that is "holy" and belongs strictly to God. We shouldn't touch it! When we neglect His command to give we repudiate His lordship, submit to Satan's, and accept the lie that says: "You can't survive without keeping everything."
But it goes beyond that. When we squander our tithes and offerings it not only repudiates God's lordship it robs Him of the opportunity of tangibly blessing us.
Look at verse ten again: "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. (11) I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. (12) Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land."
When God asks for your tithes and offerings in this passage He's begging you not to rob Him of the privilege to rebuke the devourer, supply a bumper crop, and manifest His blessing evident enough for others to see! Again, our giving enlarges our capacity to receive!
And this leads us to another aspect of the law of reciprocity. We should plant, sow, and give with the goal of reaping! Perhaps that sounds carnal but give me an opportunity to explain because I'm not trying to reduce one of God's principles to a "get rich quick" scheme.
(Example) Every farmer has three intentions when he plants. First, he anticipates a harvest. (Plowing and planting is difficult work and the farmer wants his labors rewarded.) Second, he anticipates a specific type of harvest. (If he wants corn he plants corn seed; if wants wheat he plants wheat seed, etc.) And third, he anticipates a specific size harvest. And the magnitude of the harvest abounds in proportion to the amount of seed that's planted.
So in short, the key to farmers reaping their desired harvest depends on (1) planting, (2) planting a specific type seed, and (3) planting the correct measure of seed.
There is one constant expectation at each of
these three stages of farming. The
And that's how we should live. We should always be ready to receive God's blessing when we obey His Word and sow ourselves or our service or our resources toward His purposes. It's alright to release your faith to receive what God promises!
(Example) Have you ever notice how God measures our giving to Him with His giving toward us in Luke ? Jesus talked about us giving only once but He mentioned us receiving from Him four times. Here's what Jesus said: "Give [that's the one time He spoke of our giving to Him] and it will be given to you. A  good measure,  pressed down,  shaken together and  running over, will be poured into you lap."
You see, it's alright to release your faith to receive what God promises! It's not being humble to reject what God promises to do in response to your sowing. God wants to honor obedience to His Word because it ultimately honors His name.
(Transition) Third, let's mention the inexorable nature of sowing and reaping. In other words, as dogmatically as the apostle Paul could state it he said in our text: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (8) The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (GAL 6:7-8).
III. The Inexorable Nature Of Sowing And Reaping
God never plays favorites with the law of sowing and reaping. Nobody is special enough to elude its dreadful consequences. And that's why we should carefully choose which type seeds we will plant.
(Example) Awhile back excavators discovered seeds, thousands of years old, in
Please hear me. We must not accept the false and fatal notion that insists life is unaffected by human behavior. Don't you dare adopt that as your philosophy! We should have enough spiritual knowledge to know the Bible says there are consequences to every action.
The problem with
to this quote from Jim Morrison, a Presidential advisor of the
(Example) There are irrevocable consequences to our actions. Just think back to the "radical ‘60's" when we dismissed conventional Judeo-Christian values and enshrined social anarchy and free thinking. Have there been consequences to the unbridled expression of drugs, sex, and reason? A generation later we're enduring a million and a half abortions annually; unbridled spread of sexual diseases; same-sex marriage contracts; 20,000 Americans murdered yearly; and the most morally divided nation in our 230 year history.
about the sacred place the
I don't like to admit it. No, I hate to admit it. But
As I close this message I want to exhort this local body. I'm seriously concerned about today's church. I'm thankful for the move of God that is taking place in many American congregations, but I'm profoundly concerned about the general condition of the Church. That's because many within the church assume they are exempt from reaping what they've sown; that there are no consequences to their actions. I can understand that the world doesn't understand this but not Christians!
Let us understand that God has ordained a standard by which we should live. As we submit to His lordship His name will be honored and we will be blessed. But when we violate His commands, as surely as the sun rises, we will face the consequences of our actions.